What a beautiful story! Debut author Carol Rifka Brunt weaves such a lovely heartfelt tale of love, grief, and renewal. I finished Tell the Wolves I’m Home several months ago and the characters have stayed with me ever since.
The novel opens in 1987. Fourteen-year-old June Elbus has a special relationship with her Uncle Finn, a world-famous painter. He is the only person who really “gets” her, and the only time she can be herself is with him. She doesn’t have many friends at school and her older sister is, at times, unkind to her. When Uncle Finn dies of a mysterious illness her mother refuses to name, June’s world is turned upside down.
At Finn’s funeral, June notices a strange man lingering just beyond the crowd. A few days later, she receives a package in the mail containing a beautiful teapot she recognizes from Finn’s apartment. and a note from Toby, the stranger, asking to meet. What is the motive behind this request? All June knows about Toby is what her mother and sister have told her — Toby is the man who killed her beloved uncle. I love how the author immerses us in June’s limited and unsophisticated perspective because despite her reservations, gently and cautiously, June trusts her own judgment, even if she doesn’t completely trust Toby. Anyone Uncle Finn loved must have some redeeming qualities.
As the two begin to spend time together, June realizes she’s not the only one who misses Finn. Loss gives way to rebirth. June and Toby help each other heal. She is able to gain the space to question what she thinks she knows about her uncle, her family, and even her own heart.
My biggest takeaway from Tell the Wolves I’m Home is that it is a coming-of-age story that doesn’t feel like a coming-of-age story. It’s a poignant portrait of how compassion can heal.
Four hearts for this one. ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
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